The Greatness of Sin improv'd by the Penitent as an Argument with GOD for a Pardon. A SERMON At the Thursday Lecture in BOSTON, October 17th. 1734. Preach'd in the Hearing OF John Ormesby, AND Matthew Cushing, Two Condemned Malefactors On the Day of their EXECUTION, The One for Murder, and the other for Burglary.

By JOHN WEBB, A. M. Pastor of a Church in Boston.

With an APPENDIX, Giving a faithful Account of the Behaviour of Matthew Cushing, after his Condemnation, and at the Time of his Execution. By the Reverend Mr. COOPER.

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by S. KNEELAND & T. GREEN, in Queen­street over against the Prison 1734.

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The Greatness of Sin improved by the Penitent as an Argument with GOD for a Pardon.


For thy names Sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity: for it is great.

THIS Psalm was pen'd by David, in a time of great Affliction. And it ap­pears most likely, from several Passa­ges in it, that he wrote it in his Old Age, after his shameful fall into Murder and Adultery; and in the time of the great Rebellion, which was raised against him, by his ungrateful Son Absalom, who wou'd have usurp'd the Crown and Kingdom from him. And as Sin is the only ground of God's Displeasure, and the moral cause of all the Afflictions we meet with; so we find David here (as in all the other Psalms which were pen'd on the like sorrowful Occasions) makings mourn­ful confession of his Sins, and seeking the Favour and Protection of God, by first, securing a Pardon to himself And indeed this is the only effectual Course we can take, to obtain mercy from God, in any time of Distress.

[Page 2]And as I am now call'd, by the Providence of God, to preach the last Sermon to two Condemn­ed Criminals, who in a few hours, are to have the fatal Sentence executed upon them, I know of no Subject more proper than this, to quicken & direct them in their speedy Preparations for that awful Eternity they are going into. And therefore, poor miserable Men, I beseech you, by the Mercies of God, to give the most serious and close Attention to these publick Counsels which are the last you are ever like to receive, in this way, before you ap­pear at the awful Bar of God; where, 'tis likely, before this Day is ended, you will receive that Divine Sentence, which will determine your eter­nal State, and fix you either in everlasting Hap­piness, or in endless Misery. Indeed the little Ac­quaintance I have had with you since your Impri­sonment and Condemnation (by reason of my bo­dily Indispositions, and other necessary Avocations) very much unfit me for making those particular Applications to you, which, I fear, your unhappy State and Circumstances may call for. And there­fore I should have been glad if my dear and reverend Brother , who has often visited you in Prison, and almost daily attended you with his instructive Counsels and Prayers, would for this once, have exchanged the Lecture with me, and been God's Messenger to you on this awful Occasion. But since he has declined the Service, that he might have greater leisure to ex­press his tender Compassions for you in those more private and personal Applications, which you have all along stood in the greatest need of; and since the Lot is now fallen upon me, I shall endeavour, by the Assistance of Heaven, to give you the most [Page 3] seasonable Advice I can from these words of the Psalmist; which contain a most moving and ardent Address to God: An Address fit for any Sinner in a dying Hour, and especially for such notorious Malefactors as you have been. And that you may be enabled by divine Assistance, to make this Prayer to God in your last Moments, with that Understanding, Faith and Fervency, which will secure your eternal Salvation; I shall, first, briefly explain these Words, and then speak to some Doctrinal Notes from them.

And for the Explanation of them, we may ob­serve the following things.

1. We have here David's Petition for pardoning Grace, in these words, Pardon mine Iniquity. To pardon iniquity, is to do away the Guilt of Sin; or to free a Sinner from that sentence of Condem­nation which he has justly fallen under, by his Transgression of the Law of God. And this is the Subject of David's Request here. Pardon mine Iniquity: mine Iniquity, in the singular Num­ber. From whence 'tis very likely the Psalmist had an immediate reference to some particular hei­nous Transgression, he had been guilty of, and for which he was then full of Distress, both in Body and Mind. And if he had an Eye here to his Mur­der and Adultery (as I observed before) these, in­deed, were Sins of a complicated guilt: and we have no reason to wonder at the Anguish of Soul he expresses on the account of them. But how­ever we need not confine the sense of the words so as to exclude his other Sins: For when a true Penitent pleads for the Pardon of any particular great Transgression, he has been left to fall into, in a day of Temptation, he earnestly desires the pardon of all his Sins, at the same time. And that this was the case with David, when he pen'd this [Page 4] Psalm, appears from the 18th verse of the Context, Forgive all my Sins.

2. We may observe, of Whom it is, David asks the Pardon of his Iniquities. And this is of God alone: O Lord, pardon &c. For as God is most highly offended by Sin, and as he is the only Ob­ject of Prayer; so 'tis He only can effectually for­give our Transgressions: and agreably we read in Psal. 130.4▪ 7. With the Lord there is forgiveness, and with him there is plenteous Redemption, that he may be feared.

3. We may further observe, the Arguments, David made use of for the success of his Prayer. And these are two: The one taken from the final Cause, and the other from the Object. The first is taken from the final Cause; in these Words, For thy Names sake, i e. That the Greatness of thy free and sovereign Grace and Mercy, may be displayed and magnified in pardoning mine Iniquities. This is a very natural Plea in it self, and one of the most successful Pleas we can make for the obtain­ing a Pardon For Mercy is emphatically the Name of God: and the Display of it, in a way consistent with Divine Justice and Holiness, is the last and highest End of Forgiveness For God forgives a Sinner, not for his own worthiness, but for his great Mercies Sake in Jesus Christ. Again, the other Argument here, is taken from Sin, the Object of pardoning Mercy: In these words, for it is great. That is, the Iniquity of which I beg a Pardon, is great. It is attended with very great Aggravati­ons: I have greatly dishonoured thy Name by it: It has contracted an exceeding great Guilt to my Soul: It has bro't me already into the greatest Adversity: And unless I obtain Forgiveness from thee, it will quickly plunge me into the Depth of irrecoverable and endless Misery. This Argument, indeed, is very surprizing in the Nature of it; and [Page 5] what one wou'd scarce chuse to make use of, to ob­tain the Favour of an offended Neighbour or Bro­ther. For the greatness of our Offences against Men, is generally tho't a sufficient Reason why they should retaliate upon us. And therefore a Confession of this nature to Man, does too often serve only the more to irritate the Passions of the Injured against the Offender; and sometimes, ac­cording as the nature of the Offence may be, it would put it out of the Power of those to whom we confess to forgive. But it is far otherwise with respect to the infinite God. For, as we read in Isai. 55.8, 9. My tho'ts are not your tho'ts, nei­ther are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my tho'ts than your tho'ts. And therefore since God's great de­sign in forgiving Iniquity is to exalt free & sove­reign Grace thro' Jesus Christ; the greater our Transgressions have been, the more illustrious will his Mercy appear in the Act of Forgiveness. And for this Reason among many others, he allows us, with David in the Text, to mention the greatness of our Iniquity, as an Argument why he should pardon and forgive us.

And now from the Words thus explained, we may make these three general Observations,

I That God alone ought to be addressed unto, for the Pardon of all our Iniquities.

II. Whenever God pardons Iniquity, he par­dons it, for his own Name's Sake; or to magnify his free and sovereign Grace and Mercy in Jesus Christ. And therefore,

III. Since this is God's chief End in pardoning Iniquity, the true Penitent may humbly plead the Greatness of his Sins, as an Argument with God, why he should pardon and forgive him.

[Page 6]I. I shall observe from these Words, That God alone ought to be addressed unto for the Pardon of all our Iniquities.

Here I shall not have time to enquire particu­larly into the Nature of a Pardon: Nor is there any need of it in this place: For since my pre­sent Design is chiefly to direct and encourage such Sinners, as are deeply wounded with a sense of their own Sin and Guilt, in the sure way to ob­tain the pardoning Mercy of God; every such Sinner must needs understand something of the true Nature of a Pardon; and feel the necessity, and see the worth of it, in his own Experience. And therefore I shall only, First, Confirm the Truth of this Observation; and then, Secondly, Show after what manner a distressed Sinner must make his Address to God for his pardoning Mercy.

First, I shall prove to you▪ that God, and He alone, is to be sought unto, for the Pardon of our Iniqui­ties And the Truth of this will appear in two particulars,

1. All Sin is immediately and directly an Af­front to God. For as the Apostle observes in 1 Joh. 3.4. Sin is a Transgression of the Law of God. That is, all and every Sin opposes and tramples upon God's ruling Authority. And all they that are guilty of it, set up themselves, more or less, a­gainst the Government of God, and practically say with the rebellious Jews, in Jer. 2.31. We are Lords, we will come no more unto thee. And 'tis upon this account only, that Sin contracts such Guilt as to need a Pardon. Indeed, in many Cases, one Man may really injure and grieve another. And, in all these Cases, we usually say, such a Man has sinned against his Brother or Neighbour. But then we must observe, that the real sinfulness of such Actions arises only from the Contrariety of [Page 7] them to that holy Law of God, which forbids this Ill treatment of Mankind. So that, in strict pro­priety, God is the only Object against whom Sin is or can be committed. And therefore, in the Nature of the thing, it is most reasonable, yea, and absolutely necessary too that God, and he only, should be religiously Address'd unto, for the Par­don of Sin. And besides this,

2. There is none but God, who can effectually forgive Sin. For Sin, as it exposes the Transgressor to eternal Misery, is a matter of Concernment be­tween God and the Sinner only. The Sinner transgresseth the Law of God by his Iniquity, and the Justice of God arresteth the Sinner for his Transgression: And thus God is offended, and the Sinner brought under a sentence of Condemna­tion, for one and the same Act of Sin. And there­fore as the Offence is against God only, there is none but he can release a Sinner from the Guilt of Sin. And this is the meaning of that Confession, in Dan. 9.9. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses. And now since Forgiveness, as it respects a Man's eternal state, belongs to God only, we ought surely to ask this Forgiveness of God, and of him alone: And it would be both impious and foolish in a Sinner, either to request or expect a free and full pardon of his Sins from any else.

And having thus briefly confirm'd the Point▪

Secondly, I come now, in the next place, to consider how, or after what manner, we must make our Ad­dress to God, for the Pardon of Iniquity, so as to find Mercy with Him. And here I shall say,

1 When we pray to God for a Pardon, we must pray with a deep sense of our utter Unworthiness of the Mercy. For such is the odious and defiling Nature of Sin, that it vilifies and debases the Sub­jects of it, and renders them the proper Objects [Page 8] for revenging Righteousness. And it is not possible for a Sinner, on the account of any worthiness in him, to challenge a Pardon, or claim any other Favour, at the hands of God. And therefore whenever we plead with God for a Pardon, and hope to find Mercy with Him, we must go to the Throne of Grace, as it were, with Ashes on our Heads, and with Ropes on our Necks, and confess that we are Malefactors, justly doom'd to eternal Wrath We must take with us words, and either, say with the penitent Prodigal, in Luke 15.21. Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee; and am no more worthy to be called thy Child. Or, we must confess with the repenting Jews, in Dan. 9 7. O Lord Righteousness belongeth unto thee; but unto us Confusion of faces. In a word, we must freely acknowledge that Hell and the inconceiva­ble Torments of it, are our just Desert; and that every thing, on this side the everlasting Burnings, is of the free & sovereign Mercy of God to us. This we have strongly recommended to us, in that peni­tent Language of the afflicted Church, Lam. 3.22. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his Compassions fail not.

2. When we pray for the Pardon of Iniqui­ty, we must make a free and full Confession of our Sins unto God. That is, we must not only make a free and ingenuous Confession of such Actual Transgressions and the Aggravations of them, with which we find our Consciences op­pressed and burdened: but we must be led on by these to the corrupt Fountain from whence all our Actual Sins proceed, and particularly confess and bewail that Corruption of Nature we brought into the World with us. Of this David has left us a most excellent Example, in the Fifty first Psalm, which is full of penitential Grief and Sor­row for his scandalous Sins of Adultery & Murder: [Page 9] for if we compare the 3d. & 4th. verses with the Title of the Psalm, we shall find that he makes a most ingenuous Confession of those Sins in them. For (says he in his Address to God) I acknowledge my Transgressions: and my Sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest. And then he traces these, and all the other sins of his Life, to the accursed Fountain of them, in the ori­ginal Corruption of his Nature; and makes a most sorrowful Confession of this, in the 5th verse. Behold, I was shapen in Iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. And such a free and full Confession of Sin is generally necessary to a Pardon: as appears from those two Texts of Scripture, Prov 28 13. He that covereth his Sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. And 1 Joh. [...] 9 If we confess our Sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our Sins, and to cleanse us from all Unrighteousness.

3. When we pray to God for the Pardon of our Iniquity, we must pray for it in the Name of CHRIST, and hope to receive the Mercy for his Sake alone. For as Christ is the only MEDIATOR between God and the Sinner, so he is the only Way of our Access to the Father, and Acceptance with him. And therefore if we beg a Pardon, or ask any other Favour, in the Name of any one but Christ, God will cloath Himself with a thick Cloud, and turn a deaf Ear to our Prayer. But (as the Apostle observes in 1 Joh 5.14.) this is the Confidence we have in him, i. e in Christ, that if we ask anything according to his will he heareth us. And this holy Confidence is grounded upon that Promise of our blessed Saviour to his Disciples, Joh. 14 13, 14. And whatsoever ye shall ask [in my Name] that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. [Page 10] If ye ask any thing [in my Name] I will do it. And consequently when a Sinner asks the Forgiveness of Sin, with any reasonable hopes of success, it must be in some such Language as this, Dan. 9.18, 19 O my God▪ incline thine ear, and hear:— for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses▪ but for thy great mercies. O Lord hear, O Lord▪ forgive, O Lord hearken and do, defer not, for thine own sake [for thy dear Son's sake] O my God.

4. Lastly, When we pray for a Pardon, we must humbly resolve and promise to God, that, by his Grace, we will forsake all Iniquity. For to ask the Forgiveness of Sin without such a purpose of Heart, and Engagement to God, is basely to play the Hypocrite, and to dare the Almighty to take Ven­geance upon us. This, I think, appears very evi­dent from those Words of the Psalmist. Psal 66.18. If I regard Iniquity in my Heart, the Lord will not hear me. But, on the other hand, when a Sinner goes to the Throne of Grace for a Pardon; if he finds his Heart broken for Sin, his Soul full of the hatred of it, and, with holy Job, is bro't to loath and abhor himself for his Iniquities; and with these Dispositions is led on to say, as in Job. 34.32. Lord, if I have done Iniquity, I will so no more. These are the Evidences of true Repentance. And such a Sinner, upon his asking, after this manner, shall receive the Forgiveness of his Sins, thro' the Merits and Mediation of Christ our Redeemer.

And thus I have finished the first general Head, and come now to my second Observation from these Words. And this is,

II. Whenever God pardons Iniquity, he pardons it for his own Names Sake.

This Proposition is evidently contain'd in these Words of the Psalmist. For thy Names sake, O Lord, pardon &c. For here David makes use of the NAME [Page 11] of God as the strongest Argument for a Pardon: Which plainly implies that the Magnifying of God's Name, is the last & highest End of Forgiveness And that this is really the Case, I think, no one can doubt when he reads that solemn Declaration of God himself to his People Israel, in Isa 43.25 I, even I am he, that blotteth out thy Transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember thy Sins.

But here we may, first, briefly enquire into the meaning of this Expression, For thy Names sake And, secondly, Give you some Reasons to prove that when ever God pardons Iniquity he pardons it for his own Name's sake.

First, I shall briefly enquire into the meaning of this Expression. For thy Name's sake.

And here I shall say,

1. By the Name of God, in this place, we may understand the infinite Grace and Mercy of God. For this Mercy is spoken of once and again in this Context; and to the same Purpose, for which the Name of God is mentioned in the Text. And this makes it most probable that they both signify one and the same thing in this Psalm. And be­sides, 'tis certain the Mercy of God is elsewhere emphatically styl'd the Name of God; as tho' the Almighty eminently gloried in this Perfection of his Nature, and delighted chiefly in the display of it. This is evident from Moses's humble Request to God, in Exod. 33.18 and God's condescending Answer to it, in the 5th. and 6th. verses of the next Chapter· Moses's Petition to God is, I beseech thee, shew me thy Glory: And we have the Answer referred to, in the following words. And the Lord descended in a Cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the Name of the Lord· And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Here we see the [Page 12] Goodness and Mercy of God are expresly called, the Name of God· And in this sense, For thy Name's sake, is as much as to say, For thy Mercy's sake, or to make a Display of the Riches and Glory of thy free Grace and Mercy. But since this Dis­play cannot be made but in a way consistent with the essential Rights of Divine Justice; and since we know of no other way (to use the Psalmists words in Psal. 85.10.) wherein Mercy and truth may meet together: righteousness and peace kiss each other, in the Pardon of Sin, but only by the Death and Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ; I add,

2. It is not unlikely, that by the Name of God here, the Psalmist might also have an Eye to the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. For I make no doubt, since Christ was so often & clearly typified by the legal Sacrifices of old, that the be­lieving Jews had some way or other a Dependance upon the future Sacrifice and Satisfaction of the promised Messiah, for the Pardon and Forgiveness of their Sins; and that they frequently pointed to him in their Prayers to God for a Pardon. Now there is no one Expression which they commonly made use of, in this Case, that has a clearer Aspect this way, than the Expression in the Text, For thy Name sake. For the Name of God, we know was in the Angel, whom God sent to conduct the Israel­ites through the Wilderness (Exod 23.21.) By which Angel Christ is generally understood. And if so, Why may'nt we rationally suppose, that in Allusion to this, the Jews frequently spake of the expected Messiah under this Character. The Name of God? Which if they did, For thy Names sake here may signify as much as for the Messias sake, in whom thy Name is. And that which renders this the more probable is▪ That the believing Jews made use of this Expression much after the same Manner, & in the same Cases, wherein we Christi­ans [Page 13] make use of these Words, For Jesus Christ's sake: as tho' they signified one & the same thing. And this Interpretation receives still farther Light and Strength when we consider that David who made use of this Expression, was one to whom God had made wonderful Discoveries, by the Spirit of Prophecy, of the future Death & Sufferings of the Son of God in our Nature; and no doubt, reveal­ed to him, at the same time, the great Importance and Necessity of them for the Pardon of Sin And therefore it is not reasonable to suppose, that David, when he was in so great Concern to obtain the Pardon of Sin, as we find in this Psalm, cou'd ex­pect to obtain it, in any other way, than on the Account of the Death and Sacrifice of the promi­sed Messiah And if this may be allowed a true Account of the Name of God, in the Text, then the full meaning of the Psalmists Petition in it, is this, Lord, pardon mine Iniquity, that thy free Grace and Mercy may be magnified, in and thro' Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. Where the magnifying divine Grace is to be considered as the principal End of Forgiveness, & the Merits of Christ as the necessary Medium to it And having thus briefly explained the Point, I proceed in the next Place

Secondly, To prove that whenever God pardons iniquity, he grants the Mercy upon no other Ac­count than only to display and [...] if the Riches of his Grace, in and thro' the Lord Jesus Christ. And this will fully appear in two Particulars.

1 There is a thing originally in the Sinner▪ that can move the Lord to extend his pardoning Mercy to him Indeed▪ when we consider a Sin­ner as he is a Subject of [...] by rea­son of Sin; so he is a proper Object for mercy. But when we consider him under all the unhappy Cir­cumstances the Fall has brought him into, this [Page 14] quite alters the Case with him. For it is with a Sinner, in this Respect, as it is with a Malefactor brought into Prison and Chains by a vicious Life. If we consider such an one, simply in his afflicted state, he is a proper Object for Compassion. But if at the same time, he appears obstinate in those Vices which have brought all his Distress & Ruin upon him; he cannot deserve any Mercy shou'd be extended towards him. And this is the very Case with a Sinner when the Grace and Mercy of God first finds him out. For we are not only misera­ble, and the Children of Wrath, by Nature: but we are naturally obstinate in those Sins, which have bro't all our Misery and Distress upon us. For the Sinner, in his natural state, is in Love and League with Sin: at Enmity against God, from whom a­lone his Salvation must come: and walks on in a constant Course of those Iniquities, which are the highest Provocation to Heaven. And there nei­ther is, nor can be any Alteration in him for the better: No Repentance for Sin: no godly Sor­row for Iniquity; 'till God of his free & sovereign Grace, grants him Repentance unto life. And now, this being the true state of the Sinner by Nature, there can be nothing found in the Sinner, considered in himself, that may be tho't a sufficient Motive to the Lord to extend his pardoning Mercy to him; since the very necessary Qualifications of a Pardon, as well as the Pardon itself, are whol­ly from God. And from hence it plainly appears, That whenever God pardons Iniquity, he pardons it for his own Name's sake. The Argument for a Pardon is wholly in himself, and not at all in the Sinner. Again,

2. Neither the Sinner himself, nor any meer Creature, is able to pay the necessary Price of a Pardon, to the Justice of God, for him. For tho' God intends to magnify free and sovereign Grace [Page 15] in the Forgiveness of Sin; yet he has no design to exalt one Perfection of his Nature, to the Pre­judice of another. And therefore since Justice is as dear to God as Mercy; he can never exalt his Mercy but in a way consistent with the Rights of infinite Justice. Now Justice indispensibly re­quires full Satisfaction for the Offence, before the Bands of Guilt be loosed, and the Transgressor discharged. What this Satisfaction must be, ap­pears from the nature of Sin, which is infinitely evil; not simply, but objectively considered. And, for this Reason, the Price of Forgiveness must be of infinite Value to [...]ar a full proportion to the nature of the Offence, and from hence it evidently appears that no meer Creature can pay such a Price as this to Divine Justice; for 'tis impossible, in the Nature of things, that a finite Being should be able to pay an infinite Price. And the necessary Conclusion from this, is, that if ever Satisfaction be made to the Justice of God for our Transgressions, God himself must provide, as well as accept the Price. And such a Price God has provided, in giving his only begotten Son to die a Sacrifice for Sin; and his Justice has accepted it, on the Account of all that truly Repent and believe in him. And now the concluding Argument, from the whole, is this, That whenever God magnifies his Mercy in par­doning Iniquity, it is, and can be, only for his Name's sake, that is, for his Son's sake, or upon the account of the infinite Merit of his Death and Sa­crifice. And now I have done with the second general Proposition, and come to observe, in the last place,

III. That since God's great End in pardoning Iniquity, is to magnify his infinite Grace & Mercy in Jesus Christ, the truly penitent Sinner may humbly plead the Greatness of his Sins, as an Ar­gument with God, why he should confer his par­doning Grace upon him.

[Page 16]I say, the truly penitent here, because this was the Case with David, when he made use of the Argument, in the Text, O Lord, Pardon mine Ini­quity: for it is great. And without this Repen­tance, 'tis impossible for a Sinner, by all the Ar­guments in the World, to prevail with the Lord to pardon his Iniquity: For our Saviour has pe­remptorily told us (in Luk. 13 3, 5) That except we repent we shall certainly perish. But, on the other hand, if the Sinner has a truly broken and contrite Heart in him: if he finds his Soul full of Grief, and Sorrow, and holy mourning for Sin: full of the Hatred of Sin, full of self-loathing on the Account of it; and humbly resolves, by the Grace of God, never to have any thing more to do willingly with Sin: He is then a fit Object for pardoning Mercy. And, in this holy Frame and Temper, he may go to the Throne of Grace▪ and, with Humility and Confidence, make use, even of the Greatness of his Sins as a prevailing Argument with God for a Pardon

And there are these two Reasons with which I shall confirm this comfortable Doctrine to the penitent Soul.

1. The greater our Iniquities have been▪ the more do we need the pardoning Mercy of God For the more notorious and aggravated a Sinner's Transgressions have been, the greater is the Guilt he has contracted by them: and unless he obtains the Forgiveness of them, he must certainly suffer a heavier Vengeance for them. And thus the greatest Transgressors are in the most deplorable Case, and are under the most amazing Condemna­tion. And now, since the proper Objects of Mercy are miserable Creatures; the more miserable they are in themselves, the fitter Objects are they for Mercy And Mercy never works with tenderer Bowels, or with more melting Compassions, than [Page 17] while it has to do with the most distressed Objects. And from this Consideration, the penitent Sinner, who finds himself deeply wounded with a Sense of his own Sin, and Guilt, and Misery, may take Encouragement to go to the only Physician of pe­rishing Souls, and to spread his deplorable state before him, in some such Language as this. ‘Lord, I have strangely play'd the Prodigal, and run away from thee, ever since I was born, speaking lies. I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy Son. Mine Iniquities are increased beyond Account; and they have been attended with these and the other the most aggravated Circumstances. I have abused thy Grace and Patience towards me, as much as ever any wretched Creature has done; and may justly account my self, the very Chief of Sinners. And by reason of my Transgressions, which are of a crimson and scarlet dye, I have exposed my self to thy hottest Wrath and Vengeance: And un­less I obtain pardoning Mercy from thee, my Condemnation, at the Day of Judgment, and my miserable Portion in Hell, will for ever be more intollerable than that of the Sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah: Nor did any poor Wretch ever stand in more need of thy pardoning Mercy than I do. For thy Name's sake, therefore: For thy Mercies sake in Jesus Christ, O Lord, pardon mine Iniquity: for it is exceeding great, and my miserable Condition is inexpressibly, yea, in­conceivably great on the account of it.’ And now, if there is any thing, the penitent Trans­gressor can say or do, that is likely to move the Divine Compassions towards him: nothing seems to have a more promising tendency this way, than some such ingenuous Confessions as these. And therefore, for a true Penitent, to mention the Great­ness [Page 18] of his Sins, after this manner, is as proper an Argument as he can make use of, to obtain Forgive­ness from God. Again,

2. The greater our Transgressions have been, the more will the Mercy of God be magnified in pardoning of them. For since God's chief design in Forgiveness, is to display the Glory of his free and sovereign Grace in Jesus Christ; the greater those Sins are which he forgives, the more illustri­ous will his Mercy appear in the Act of Forgive­ness. For the Riches of Divine Grace and Mercy appear to be no less than infinite, when the great­est Unworthiness is over-look'd, and the most crimson Guilt is removed, by them. Hence, in this way, the super-abounding Grace of God is occasio­nally illustrated from the Abounding of Sin; as the Blessed Apostle Paul assures us in Rom 5.20. And he elsewhere confirms this Truth to us in his own Example. For when he first acquaints us what a great Sinner he had been: That he had been a Blasphemer, a Persecutor, and Injurious, in 1 Tim. 1.13. He tells us in the next verse, that in his obtaining Mercy, the Grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant. And indeed, the Mercy of God never appears more illustrious than it does, in Rescuing the most miserable and unworthy Objects from Destruction. For in such Instances, the Grace of God discovers it self to be Almighty-Grace, and that nothing can be too hard for it. And since this is the true state of the Case, what should hin­der the true Penitent from going to the Throne of Grace, and pleading thus with the Almighty? especially if he knows his Transgressions have exceeded. ‘Lord, my Sins have been many, and at­tended with the highest Aggravations: I nei­ther know the Number nor the heinous Guilt of them But this I am sure of, tho' my Offen­ces have abounded, thy Grace and Mercy in [Page 19] Christ Jesus have abounded much more. And thou hast taken Occasion heretofore, highly to magnify thy Grace in pardoning the Chief of Sinners: Yea, the greater their Transgressions have been, the brighter Display hast thou made of thy free and sovereign Grace in the Forgive­ness of them. O therefore take Occasion once more, from the Heinousness of my Sins, to shew forth the infinite Riches of thy Mercy. And if thou wilt forgive my crimson and scarlet Trans­gressions, thy Grace shall forever have the Praise of it, through Jesus Christ.’ And now for the Penitent Transgressor to mention the Greatness of his Sins, after this manner, is certainly pleasing in the Sight of God; and so must be as proper an Argument, as he can make use of to prevail with the Almighty to extend a Pardon and Eternal Salvation to him.

And thus I have gone through the doctrinal Handling of these words, and come now to the APPLICATION of them, in two general Heads.

And the first is,

I By way of solemn Caution and Warning to all, especially to our profane Children and Youth, who are madly running on in the ways of Sin, and have hitherto obstinately refused to be reclaimed, by all the Means and Methods that have been used with them for this End▪ I say, I shall improve what has been said by way of solemn Caution and Warning to all such as these. For there is nothing more natural to carnal Sinners than basely to abuse the Doctrine of Divine Grace and Mercy: and to take Occasion, from the Consideration of it, to in­dulge their unruly Lusts and Corruptions. For whenever they hear this Doctrine preach'd, name­ly, Where Sin has abounded, Grace has much more abounded, (which Doctrine was delivered only for the Encouragement and Consolation of such Sin­ners, [Page 20] as are in deep Distress and Anguish, and have their Hearts broken, at the sight of their great Sin and Guilt before God) I say, when they hear this Doctrine of Divine Grace, displayed in all the Glories of it, they presently make a misapplication of it; and secretly say, This is comfortable Doc­trine indeed: For I see now that my Sins can ne­ver be too many for God to pardon. Nay, the greater they are, the more illustrious will the Grace of God appear at last in the Pardon & Forgiveness of them. And since it is thus, says the ungrateful Wretch, I may safely continue still longer in my Sins, and take my fill of sensual Pleasures; and am resolved to do so, and make no doubt but the Grace of God will abound, at last, in my Pardon and Salvation. And if the profane Sinner be in his Youthful Days, he will presume upon long Life; and, from the Doctrine of Divine Grace, hope for the Mercy of God, after a long Life spent in Sin and Rebellion against Heaven. But, O vain and deluded Sinner! This is horrid Pre­sumption in the sight of an holy, Sin-hating, and Sin-revenging God. And therefore the blessed Apostle Paul, just after he had delivered this comfortable Doctrine, for the ease of distressed Consciences, fore-seeing the infinite Hazard many would be in of abusing it to the vilest purposes, solemnly warns all profane Sinners against this fatal Abuse of it, in Rom. 6. beginning. What shall we say then? shall we continue in Sin, that Grace may abound? God forbid! Which is a form of Speech he frequently made use of▪ to show his ut­ter abhorrence of any great Iniquity, And there­fore I now solemnly say to all profane Sinners, and particularly to our graceless Children and Youth; God forbid, That any of you should con­tinue one Year, one Day, or so much as one Hour longer in Sin, with hopes that the Grace [Page 21] of God will hereafter abound in your Pardon and Salvation. And to set home this seasonable Cau­tion, this solemn Warning, I must beseech, and, in the Name of God, demand your serious Consi­deration of a few things.

1. Consider, Your past Iniquities are very many, and exceedingly aggravated already. For tho' some of you are but Young in Years, yet you are Old in your Iniquities: For you have all been Transgressors from the Womb, and been guilty of innumerable Sins every Day, since you have come to the Exercise of Reason. And as all your Sins have been against Gospel Light and Grace, they have been dreadfully aggravated on this account. And many of your Sins have been of the most heinous Nature: such as Cursing, Swearing, Lying, Stealing, Prophaning the Name and Day of God, Uncleanness, and the like. So that every such Sinner, tho' ever so young in Years, has infinite Reason already to make his Prayer to God, in the words of my Text, O Lord, pardon mine Iniquity: for it is great. Again,

2. Consider, If you don't speedily repent and reform, 'tis not unlikely, God may, in a little time, utterly forsake, and give you up to those most no­torious and scandalous Transgressions, which will quickly bring you to a most shameful and igno­minious Death, by the Hands of Publick Justice. For have we not here, before our Eyes, a most fearful Example of two miserable Men, and one of them too in the very prime and vigour of Youth, who but a twelve month ago, it may be, as little tho't of ever coming to so ignominious a Death, as the most secure of you all. But behold, by the just Judgment of God, they appear, in this vast Assembly, with their Lives forfeited into the Hands of Publick Justice; and are under a Sentence of Condemnation to die in a few Hours, for their no­torious [Page 22] and scandalous Crimes. And unless you speedily repent and return to God, and commit the keeping, both of your Bodies and Souls to Him, in a way of well doing, you can have no security but this will be the miserable portion of some or other of you, before you have seen the Revolution of another Year. But suppose, after all the crying Sins your own Consciences are wit­nesses to, you should escape the Hands of Publick Justice: Yet,

3. Consider, 'Tis likely God will take you into his own Hands, and speedily inflict his more im­mediate and more terrible Vengeance upon you. For this has frequently been the dreadful Doom of such bold and Heaven daring Transgressors, as many of you are. For did not Nadab and Abihu, Hophni and Phineas, die suddenly in their Youth, for their horrid Prophaneness and Impiety? Were not Annanias & Sapphira suddenly struck dead, by the Hand of God, with a Lye in their Mouths? And have you not read or heard of many others, whom God has made the amazing Examples of his Ven­geance, in this way? And were not all these Ex­amples intended by God for a solemn Warning to all others? O then think seriously on them, you that upon every turn, are ready to imprecate the Vengeance of God, and to wish you may either rot alive, or may die, or be damned, or the like, if you either did, or would do, this or the other thing. And, at the same time, consider how just it would be, for, God to take you at your Word, and to send you into the Congregation of the Dead, with this visible Mark of his fiery Indignation up­on you

But suppose you should escape with Impunity in this World, and should live to grow old in Years as well as in Sin; Yet after all,

[Page 23]4. Consider, 'Tis most likely God will deny you his Grace at last, and bring the Damnation of Hell upon you in the long run. For the Prophet Isaiah has told us▪ from the Mouth of God, in in Chap 65.20. That the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And consequently the longer he lives in Sin, the more aggravated will be his eternal Damnation. And Oh, that every Christless and Graceless Sinner in this Assembly, and particularly the prophane Children and Youth in it, might be so imprest from these Considerati­ons, as to be ready to hearken to all the Warnings and Counsels that are given them from God, both by his Word and Providences!

And here, upon this awful Occasion, I would, with all earnestness, beseech our tho'tless Youth, and all others that are madly walking in the ways of their own Hearts, and in the sight of their Eyes, to hearken to the solemn Warnings that have been frequently given, by Condemned Criminals, at the Time and Place of their Execution. For these are certainly Warnings from the Dead, if there are any such given us in this World. What you may hear from these miserable Men, or how far they may think it their Duty, in their dying Moments, to give Glory to God, in this way, I know not But I am certain that some others when they have been greatly awakened, at the near Prospect of Death and Eternity, have given the most season­able and solemn Warnings to their vain Compa­nions, and to all Spectators, to beware of those Sins which have led on by degrees to their tragical End. And they are usually such as these. Their early Disobedience to their Parents; Their resisting and grieving the striving Spirit of God: Their Neglect of Prayer: Their Despising the Sabbaths of the Lord, and turning a deaf Ear to the many Warnings and Counsels that were given to them in the Ministry of the Word: Their prophane [Page 24] Cursing and Swearing, and taking the Name of God in vain: Their intolerable Pride: Their un­governable Passion: Their frequent running into bad Company: Their Drunkenness: Their Un­cleanness: Their Theft, and the like. And there­fore as you would not fall after their fatal Exam­ple, Oh! beware of these Heaven during Sins, which without a seasonable and thorow Repentance, will inevitably lead to the like, or a much worse De­struction. And let all those whose consciences witness to their own Guilt, in any of these respects, be perswaded to fly instantly to the Blood of Christ for the Pardon of all their past Sins. Pray earnestly for a new Heart: make an entire Dedi­cation of your selves to God now in & thro' the Lord Jesus Christ; and commit the keeping of your selves to Him, in a way of well-doing. And in this way you may reasonably expect the restrain­ing, the sanctifying, and the comforting Influences of God's holy Spirit while you live, and hope for eternal Life in the World to come.

And this leads me now to the next Head of Im­provement. And this is,

II. By way of Direction and Encouragement. First, To all such Sinners who are in Distress and Anguish from a Consideration of the Greatness of their Sins. And Secondly, to the poor condemned Criminals in particular.

1. I shall say a word for the Consolation and En­couragement of all such Sinners who are in deep Distress and Anguish, from a consideration of the Greatness of their past Sins. For there have been (and, doubtless there are at this day) many poor Sinners, who, under very awakening Convictions, have had such a doleful Prospect of the heinous Nature of their past Transgressions, that they have been ready to conclude, they have sinned them­selves beyond all Hopes of Recovery; and that [Page 25] now there can be no Mercy in store for them. They have sinned, it may be, against former Mer­cies and Means, and, perhaps, notoriously broke their former solemn Vows and Engagements made to God in a serious Frame: and the very tho'ts of these things are ready to drive them into utter De­spair. And therefore when they have gone to ask Counsel of the Ministers of Christ, or any other experienced Christians, they have frequently made these or the like mournful Enquiries. Did God ever forgive such a vile Transgressor as I have been? one who has so often, and for so long a time, been daring the Vengeance of Heaven a­gainst me? Is it possible, that such as I am should ever obtain Mercy from God? Can there be any Grace in store for me? &c. Now to every such distressed Soul I can answer, with all Assurance, in the Affirmative, and say, Yes; God has forgiven many a Transgressor▪ as great as you have been: For such were Manassah, Mary Magdalen, and many more. And 'tis possible you may obtain Mercy, at the hands of God, as well as they. Nay, 'tis very probable there is Grace particularly in store for you And this I will venture to say fur­ther for your Encouragement, That if you hearti­ly bewail and lament your Sins before the Lord, the greatness of your past Sins will be so far from being a hindrance to a Pardon, that they will ra­ther move the Lord speedily to take pity on you, under your distressing Circumstances. For the Grace of God can as easily triumph over the great­est, as over the least Unworthiness: And he is as ready to forgive the greatest Transgressions, to the truly penitent, as to pardon the least Iniquity. And therefore if you will but improve the Liberty you may take at the Throne of Grace, and plead with David in the Text, For thy names sake, O Lord, pardon mine Iniquity▪ for it is great; you [Page 26] may be sure of a gracious Answer For God him­self, who cannot deceive, has promised, That if we confess and forsake our Sins, we shall find Mercy. Prov. 28.13. And to encourage you to lay hold on this, and such like Promises, he has further said, in Isai 55 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to God, for he will abundantly pardon.

And this leads me now,

2. To direct my self to the poor Condemned Criminals in this Assembly. And what a word of Encouragement does this Subject afford to you in your present most deplorable Condition. Alass! miserable Men! we heartily mourn your sad State and Doom. For tho' your Transgressions have been many and great and your Iniquities have found you out, and you are to be cut off this Day, from the Land of the Living; the one for a cruel Murder; and the other for a vile Burglary and Theft, which is now made a capital Crime, by the wholesome Laws of the Land; yet our Bowels are moved with the tenderest Compassion for you: and we heartily wish and pray for your Eternal Salvation. But I must confess 'tis with Fear and Trembling what the Event may be. For when we consider the great Advantages you have had, since your Trial and Condemnation, first, in the mercy of the Government, in sparing you so long from Execution; and then, in the unwearied pains which some of the faithful Ministers of Christ have taken with you: In the first place, to lay be­fore you the miserable State you are in, by the Breach of the first Covenant between God and Man; and, in the next place, to give you a true Gospel Account of the New-Covenant way to Eternal Life by Jesus Christ: And when we con­sider that after all this, you have (especially one [Page 27] of you) too frequently given way to Intemperance, and in the Excess of Drink and Passion have often vented a Rage and Madness, far unbecoming the state of true Penitents. I say, when we consider these Things, we can't but have a great Jealousy least the Grace of God has been bestowed upon you in vain. But, O wretched Men! I pray you would not misconstrue this Plainness: nor look upon it as an Effect of Ill-will, or of an unchari­table Temper, or as if I mention these things to drive you now at last into a Despair of the Mercy of God. No, God knows it proceeds from a sense of Duty, and from a tender Compassion for your pre­cious and immortal Souls; if now in the last hour or two of Life, you may be brought to a saving Repentance. And therefore, if we can minister any Light and Direction to you, under your pre­sent Darkness; any Word of true Support and Comfort to your sinking Spirits; or be any ways helpful to you in your speedy Preparation for Death and Eternity: The Searcher of all Hearts knows how ready we are, to do all we can for you, in these Respects. And ag [...]ably, if your miserable and distressing Circumstances have now at last been a means to revive the Convictions of God's Spirit in you, and thereby to bring you into a deep Concern for the Salvation of your perish­ing Souls (which is our earnest Prayer to God for you) then, what you have heard at this Time must bring a rich Cordial to your fainting Souls. For have your Sins been very many and great? Jesus the Son of God is a great Saviour, and able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him. Are they of a crimson and scarlet dye? There is merit enough in the precious blood of Christ to cleanse you from the Guilt and Pollution of them all. And if you are tempted to question his Willingness to save such vile Sinners as you have been: If you have now a broken and contrite Heart in you, I can [Page 28] assure you from the holy Scriptures, that God now invites, intreats, and commands you to come unto him for eternal Life and Salvation. And you may go to him, under all your Sin and Guilt, and even make use of the greatness of your Sins, as an Argument to move his eternal Compassions towards you For, behold, now is the accepted Time: behold, now is the Day of Salvation: tho' alas! This is the very last of your Days of Grace, and this the last publick Call you are ever like to have to Repentance and Salvation, before you die. Oh then, miserable Men, fly to a SAVIOUR now, as to your only Refuge; fly to him instantly: for, behold, ETERNITY, ETERNITY is at the Door: and you must, before this Sun is set, enter into an awful Eternity: And now is the only Time you are ever like to have to prepare for that Eter­nity. Oh then, I say again, fly to the Almighty JESUS this moment. Cast yourselves down at his merciful Feet: Smite upon your Breasts, and let each of you cry out, in Agony of Soul, God be merciful to me a poor Sinner. Beg of God the deepest Repentance for all your past Sins, and particularly for the Sins for which you stand Con­demned to die: Plead with him for a new Heart: Be earnest with him for a saving Faith in Christ. And when you have done this, then lift up your Eyes to Heaven, and you may behold the Al­mighty REDEEMER, with the Arms of his Mercy open to receive you And you may arise and run into them for Eternal Salvation.

And, in particular, as you are now going to meet the King of Terrors, in the most formidable Appearance, Oh! beg speedy Preparation for Death, that you may be able to meet it with a suitable Frame of Spirit: That, in your dying Moments, you may give Glory to God, by a most penitent Confession of Sin; by expressing a lively Faith in [Page 29] Christ; by a stedfast Hope of eternal Life; and by a chearful Resignation of your Spirits into the Hands of our glorious God and Saviour. And in this way, tho' the Death of the Body may be ignomini­ous and shameful, the Reproach of it will be done away in the Day of Christ's Appearing, when e­very true Penitent shall appear with him in Glory. But, Oh! miserable Men! I cannot take my leave of you, 'till I observe to you, That if after all the Means and Pains that have been used with you, both in private and publick, you should die in a state of Impenitency, with a reigning Enmity in your Hearts against the Blessed God, and with an unforgiving Spirit towards Men; which God forbid: then all the solemn Applications that have been made to you now, and at other seasons, since your Condemnation, will serve only to aggravate your dreadful Doom, at the Great Day, and your E­ternal Misery in the World to come. But while you remain fit subjects for it, our Prayers shall be, that all may minister to your Eternal Salvation. AMEN.

The End of the SERMON.


THE sorrowful occasion upon which the foregoing very perti­nent and pathetical sermon was preach'd, is told us in the title-page. One of these criminals, namely, Matthew Cushing, was an unhappy youth, who had not seen twenty two years in the world. I suppose there has not at any time been a criminal amongst us more talk'd of, and whose circumstances have so rung thro' the town and country. Many of the reports that have gone abroad, I am very sure are false and groundless; for this reason, as well as to gratify the desires of some serious persons, who would willingly know what ef­fect all the means of grace used with him had upon him, I shall endeavour to give a plain and faithful account of his behaviour after his condemnation, and at the time of his execution, so far as it came under my knowledge and observation: And it may be, the honour of God, and good of others may be something served by it.

[Page]He was born at Limerick in Ireland, of Roman catholick parents. What impressions of religion he had receiv'd were in their way; but these were very small, and next to none. He left his parents when he was about sixteen years of age, but was never so happy as to fall in the way of religious instruction, or a good example. And therefore when I first saw him after his condemnation, I found him as ignorant as you can well suppose a rational creature to be, who had ever liv'd in those countrys that are call'd christian. But as he greatly needed instruction, so he seem'd to me to have a good natural capacity for it, and to be very desirous of it. He entreated me to see him as often as I could, and that it might be daily if I could spare him the time; and always receiv'd my visits to him with all thankfulness. He likewise desir'd to hear the word of God in public, which was readily granted him: And so he constantly attended the Lecture on Thursdays, and on Lords-days where he chose for himself.

By the blessing of God on these means used with him, he in a little time attain'd to some good degree of knowledge in the things of God and salvation; tho' he was not able to read, which was a great hindrance to his progress in knowledge, and made the labour of those that instructed him much the harder. And when he thus became a little better in­structed, he would speak of his unhappiness [Page] in the want of a good education; and say of himself, that in time past he knew little more than a bruit. No wonder then he was, (to use the Psalmist's expressions) as a horse, or a mule, which hath no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle. I mention this to excite parents very carefully to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, as one powerful means of restraint when they grow up: And to let our catechized instructed youth know, that by their sinning against such a religious edu­cation as they have been favour'd with, their sins become more heinous in the sight of God, than the sins of others, such as he was.

The arrows of conviction also seem'd at times to stick in him. He us'd frequently to confess his sins, and bewail himself on the account of them with crying and tears; speaking of himself as an over-grown sinner, for whom he was afraid there was no mercy; and lamenting not only the sinfulness of his life, but of his heart & nature as the source and spring from which all proceeded: And was divers times over-heard in his prison chamber, in the night time especially, ear­nestly pleading with God in prayer.

But at other times his behaviour was with much levity & unconcernedness The vain and inconsiderate people that resorted to the prison yard, and were almost continually [Page] calling to and talking with him, were a great hurt and snare to him; so that he was once or twice sadly overcome with strong drink; and being of a very quick and hasty natural temper, he once and again fell into violent transports of passion, wherein the language of hell which he had so us'd himself to before, was utter'd by him in a most shocking man­ner, and under a kind of satanic impression.

By and by again he would bewail himself, and seem'd astonish'd at the prodigious wick­edness of his own heart, the enmity, (or ve­nom, as his own word was) which he found there against God and holiness. After one such fit I remember he said to me, He had carried himself so as to make every body hate him, and he did not wonder at it, for he now hated himself more than others could hate him. And added, That he now saw if it were possible for him to go to heaven with such a nature as his, not chang'd & renew'd, heaven would be no heaven to him, but a place of uneasiness and misery rather.

Thus there were frequent struggles between strong convictions and raging corruptions, till on the very day before his execution he fell into as bad a frame is he had been in at all, wherein his tongue was as it were set on fire of hell. This gave the greatest concern and anxiety of mind to those whome had been la­bouring for his conversion, and using the means of salvation with him, in hopes he [Page] might be found among the elect of God; and made them ready to give up all hope con­cerning him, and begin to fear whether he would not even die raging & cursing, or lay violent hands on himself before hand, as I know he had been tempted to do.

But by degrees the transport went off, so that in the beginning of the evening, he again appear'd to be in a most humble, broken, pe­nitent frame. A Minister of the Town who now went in to see him, tells me, He never saw a man in so perfect an agony. O Sir, said he to the Minister upon his going in, Can you think there are any hopes of me? The Minister replyed, I saw you in so good a frame yesterday, that I began to conceive good hopes con­cerning you. He answered, —But I have this day been cursing and swearing again! — Oh! was there ever such a wicked heart as mine?— I see I can't trust to my own resolutions! —Oh! if I should be in such a frame to morrow when I am to die! And the tho't and fear of this seem'd greatly to distress him, and make him cry to God for help.

He now desir'd some body might read to him some suitable portions of the holy scrip­tures, which was done till late at night: and the remainder of the night, a great part of it [Page] at least, he spent▪ as those that watch'd at the place have told me, in earnest prayer to God.

And now the awful and decisive day is come on, on which he appear'd compos'd and prayerful, and express'd a humble resig­nation to the will of heaven in his death; declaring he mattere'd not what his body▪ suffer'd here, if it might be well with his soul hereafter.

As he went to the place of execution, he was full of earnest short addresses to heaven, such as these; Lord, be merciful to me a Sin­ner! — I am an overgrown Sinner! Lord GOD! search me! — O turn my soul over and over! [By which he meant that the work of grace in him might be a perfect & through work] Lord, let my death be sanctified to all these peo­ple, that they may all, every one of them take warning by me! He now spake of his late sins, as the most aggravated sins of his life, and lying most heavy upon him.

Being come to the gate at the end of the town, he look'd up upon it and cried, Lord! let the gate of heaven now be open to receive me, as this gate is open to me to go thro'!

Being arriv'd at the place of execution, tho' he in some circumstances shew'd such presence of mind as some were ready to won­der at, yet nothing I think that could justly be call'd stupidity or hardness. He declar'd [Page] he was not afraid of the death he was to suffer, only of appearing before his judge. With a loud voice he warn'd the spectators of those sins and vices, which had fill'd up his short life, and ripen'd him for the judgments of God. And when the public prayer made on the oc­casion was over, to which he composedly at­tended, then he fell into an agony, and in his agony he prayed; and never did I hear such piercing cries go up to heaven, at which ma­ny hundreds were dissolv'd into tears. With unutterable anguish he sent up such petitions as these, O Lord God, be merciful to me a poor sinner! O Lord, save a perishing sinner, that is perishing before God and man! Let me not pe­rish in this world and in the other too! And now he call'd to the spectators, O pray for me, for I an't able to pray for my self! In these petitions he made Christ his plea and argument, saying, Lord, save me thro' the means of thy Son Jesus Christ! His blood is sufficient! His blood is sufficient! He came to save the chief of sinners. O Lord God, draw me to thy Son Jesus Christ!— So when the sor­rows of death compass'd him, and the pains of hell gat hold upon him, and he found trouble and sorrow, he call'd upon the name of the Lord, O Lord, I beseech thee to deliver my soul.—

And thus I have given a plain narrative of matter of fact. I pronounce nothing at all upon it. It becomes us to leave him in the hands of a sovereign, righteous, and mer­ciful [Page] God, whose judgment, and not ours, has the disposal of him. There is no oppor­tunity further to try the sincerity of his re­pentance. Whether the strong man arm'd, who strove so violently to keep possession of the house, was in the last conflict overcome and turn'd out, and the spirit of God became triumphantly victorious, and rescu'd the prey from the mighty, we must not know till the great day of the manifestation of all things.

If the case should be as bad as any may fear, and there was not after all a true work of grace wro't in this miserable man, we may learn this from it, That conversion, wherever it is wro't, is the work of free, sovereign, almighty grace. It is not in the power of men or means to convert a sinner; nor is it in the power of a sinner to convert himself. The fear of death and hell, in the near views of them, will not work a saving sanctifying change in the soul. A sinner may see his sins, & have great concern for them, and yet not hate them so as to turn from them. He may see his duty, and yet not have a heart to do it. He may see his danger, and yet run upon it. He may see the day of death and judgment near; and yet not do any thing to purpose in the great business of his salvation.— Where then is that free-will, and those powers of nature which some so earnestly plead for? Therefore, O unconverted sinner, see and ac­knowledge, God of his free grace must work [Page] all your works in you and for you. If you have any tho'ts of turning to him, beg of him not to leave you to your self. Be infi­nitely afraid of doing any thing to provoke him to take his holy Spirit from you. Let Ephraim's prayer in the day of his conviction be yours, Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God.

To have done; I am hot without hopes God intends good to some souls by means of this providence. I have observed in times past, some or other have been awakened by the publick discourses on such solemn occa­sions. And if what a minister intends more particularly for the benefit of one, is set home by the Spirit of God on another, free-grace will still be glorified, and a soul saved. We must leave it to God to shew mercy to whom he will shew mercy; and none may find fault with his will. For my tho'ts are not your tho'ts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thot's than your tho'ts.

W. C.

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